After claiming two wins from two, France and Ireland both lead the race for this year’s Six Nations title after an intriguing first fortnight of the tournament.
However, with no one side looking entirely convincing in this year’s competition, that could all change as the 2020 Six Nations heads to the halfway stage.
Here’s our round-up of the major talking points far after the first two rounds of games…
Six Nations 2020 Round 2 Review & Latest Outright Odds
1. England win ugly – but Eddie Jones won’t care
Eddie Jones was looking for a response from England at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon after their no-show against France. He didn’t quite get one – but a laboured 13-6 victory against Scotland was ultimately enough for England to claim back the Calcutta Cup and keep in touch with the pacesetters. Jones can point to the appalling conditions hardly helping matters as Storm Ciara moved in north of the border. Expect him to bank the win and move on quickly as he focuses on tougher tests ahead.
With the fixtures now falling in their favour, England remain marginal favourites at 33/20 in the latest rugby odds with Marathonbet to win the tournament. However, Jones’s side will need to raise their game considerably in back-to-back games against Ireland and Wales at Twickenham before a final-weekend tussle with perennial whipping boys Italy.
2. Ireland put a marker down against Wales
The Irish have enjoyed a strong start to this year’s tournament under new head coach Andy Farrell, ultimately overpowering Wales to record a morale-boosting 24-14 win that suggests a second Grand Slam in three years might not be completely beyond them (it’s currently 11/2 with Marathonbet).
The tournament gets harder from hereon in for the Irish with trips to England and France to come in their last three games. However, a solid defensive structure gives Farrell some firm foundations to build on heading into the second half of this tournament.
3. Storm clouds still gathering around Scotland
It looks set to be another frustrating year for the Scots after competing well against England before ultimately being outclassed in the closing stages. Gregor Townsend’s side still look no closer to the breakthrough needed to suggest they can consistently compete with the traditional heavyweights in this competition.
Off-field matters also continue to plague Townsend, with the fallout from Finn Russell’s early exit from the Scotland camp overshadowing their displays on the field. So far, both Russell and his head coach are refusing to back down – hardly ideal preparations ahead of a trip to Rome.
4. France may have peaked too soon
Momentum can be everything in the Six Nations, so it would be foolish to rule out France ending their decade-long drought by claiming a first title since 2010.
However, Les Bleus made heavy weather of their 35-22 victory over Italy after noticeably switching off in the second half. Fabien Galthie’s side repeated their flying start against England to ultimately leave the Italians with too much to do to close the gap, but an error-strewn performance suggests the French may lack the consistency to stay the distance in this tournament. Still, it could be the wake-up call needed to help them focus on the task in hand.
5. Wales remain a work in progress
Any faint hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams for the Welsh were extinguished in Dublin, but new coach Wayne Pivac was rightly philosophical at full time about his team’s current trajectory as he continues the difficult task of moving Wales away from the Warren Gatland era.
Pivac already looks to be enjoying some early success as he adopts a more offensive approach – as shown in the build-up to Tomas Williams’ try. However, he’ll also need to work on cutting out the defensive errors that ultimately tipped the game in Ireland’s favour. Wales currently look every inch a team in transition, capable of blowing both hot and cold. That’s only to be expected as the new coach makes baby steps in changing the culture from Gatland’s 12-year reign.
6. Italy escape with their pride intact
The waiting game goes on for Italy, who are still no closer to a first win in this tournament since 2015 after defeat against France. However, a spirited second-half showing that unsettled a resurgent France side suggests Italy still deserve a stay of execution despite repeated talk about their future in this tournament.
A home tie against a low-scoring Scotland side in round three gives them the ideal opportunity to silence their critics and finally end their five-year wait for a win.
Check out our latest rugby odds as the Six Nations continues.
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Odds correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.
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